The New Black

So, black lives matter.

Well, they do this week because there’s a big old meaty bandwagon gathering pace and every bloated, comfortable, privileged hypocrite wants to hop on for the ride.

If black lives mattered – as a point of social reality – then the Back Lives Matter movement would not need to exist.

Make no mistake, the hate, prejudice, and injustice as the object of the current demonstrations has functioned effortlessly for decades. It’s part of the fabric or UK society in all those under-the-radar blocks and obstacles. It nestles in the attitudes and actions of everyday life. Its consistent and corrosive presence inflicts more lasting widespread damage than all the high-profile paroxysms combined.

If only governments had pumped as much focus into fighting that as they did the coronavirus.

It speaks volumes that it took a high-profile death in the US for the wider population to realise that we might have an issue with racism here. Let’s not insult our own intelligence. We know that it’s a huge problem for minority citizens. It’s just that it’s not a huge problem for UK society as a whole. If it were, it would have been sorted by now.

It’s as if we’ve imported outrage like a commodity and once we’ve toyed with it, we’ll move onto a new distraction. In some ways, black is the new black. After all, we’ve done the gay thing to death now. Another of life’s dimensions to which the nimbyist liberal elite are ambivalent but wear like a Kevlar badge.

So, all those who are expressing solidarity and speaking out, well, it wouldn’t ring so hollow if we could reflect on a track record of demonstrable support for black people over recent decades. Yes, we’ve got laws, and we’ve got policies, but none of that changes culture. The lived experience of how things are done around here. And all the laws have done have has been to drive racism underground. The racists have actually got better at the whole caper.

Occasionally, some knuckle-dragger will get nicked for assault and some well-meaning cop will stick on a ‘racially aggravated’ charge, and off Frankenstein will pop to the winkle shop for a few extra months. But the cavemen out there don’t promote racism. They enact it in its most brutal forms. The real damage is heaped on minority groups by those who hold power. Not merely elected power at the top of the pyramid, but that held by, for example, the bank manager, the recruitment consultant, and the shopkeeper. Those who have the power to block and frustrate at every turn.

You’ve just gotta love the term solidarity, though. The fake activists genuinely believe that just by saying the word they can socially distance themselves from the bad guys. But they’re not actually tweeting away their guilt, because they feel none. They’re building liberal capital and their own platforms.

Tonight, they’ll trot off home and pop up again in the morning to inject their wretched flopdoodle personalities into the debate. And that’s only if they feel like it. That’s the joy of slacktivism; they can take it or leave it. If their ‘offence’ had grown from any minuscule shred of real concern, they’d have sorted it by now. Look at coronavirus and what has been mobilised. Fear did that and generated a will to act. Such a will to address inequality doesn’t exist.

But that won’t deter the Six Million Follower Man from tweeting his ‘outrage’. However, he cares as much about inequality as you do about his online profile. And those are two good reasons to neither like nor retweet his vacant soundbites.

We probably shouldn’t be too harsh on the fakers, though. It’s not that they are active proponents of inequality, but they just love comfort and money more. It’s not that they wouldn’t ever protest at any other time, but it’s just that they’ve usually got something more important to do.

And that’s why, in this debate, it should be the black voices speaking and rest of us listening.

We shouldn’t be talking and tweeting at all until we have understood the problem.

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